By Scott Lehane
It’s that time of year again. Summer crowds have vanished, blooming tulips are a distant memory, and the citizens of Amsterdam are taking back their tidy but irreverent city. Well, almost. Starting Sept. 12, thousands of film and TV folks will descend upon the city for one last fling, sampling the latest gear at the high-tech International Broadcasting Convention (IBC).
“IBC will be a very significant show because a lot of Europeans and Asians didn’t come to NAB this year,” said Amnon Band, president of Band Pro Film/Video, 11.340. (All the numbers in this story refer to company booth numbers at Amsterdam’s RAI convention center.) It’s a sentiment many manufacturers are echoing. In addition to suffering from worldwide budgetary woes, NAB took place in the height of the SARS scare. Here Below the Line looks at what some exhibitors were planning as they packed their bags.
Band reported that although Europeans aren’t really looking at HD as a broadcast medium (yet), they are starting to see its value as an acquisition and postproduction format. For Band Pro that represents an opportunity for its Zeiss DigiPrime lenses for HD cinematography, which give videographers filmic lenses to work with. The set includes a 5mm (T1.9), 7mm (T1.6), 10mm (T1.6), 14mm (T1.6), 20mm (T1.6), 40mm (T1.6) as well as new 28mm and 70mm CF (close focus) lenses. The DigiPrime lenses are optimized for video cameras with a 2/3” imager and a B4 lens mount.
A lot of R&D work has been devoted to developing video optics systems that look and act like film lenses, and there are some innovative approaches to this problem.
Joe Dunton Cameras, 11.155, will again be showing the Mitchell Digital Magazine, which fits in place of a standard Arri film magazine on an Arri SR2 and SR3. Cinematographers can use normal film lenses, and the standard viewfinder, but in place of film, the camera outputs a 1080I HD image via three 2.2 mega-pixel IT CCDs. (FIT CCDs will also be available as an option).
P+S Technik, 11.559, which introduced a line of adapters for PL-mount film lenses on B4-mount video cameras, will introduce the new 400 series Mini35 digital image converter. “The difference between the previous version and the new version is that the ground glass oscillates instead of spins,” explained Barbara Lowry, marketing director for ZCG Inc. (North American distributor for P+S Technik and Cooke Optics). “Because it was spinning to avoid pixelation and give it a grainy film-like look, there was always a center point. Now it oscillates to eliminate that center point.”
In addition, a new Panasonic AG-DVX 100 Mini35 adapter will be introduced.
Cooke Optics, 11.400, is also introducing products for the HD market. The company will be showing its new S4 HD Zoom lens—a film-style HD zoom lens. Lowry called it “the first Cooke zoom lens for the 21st century.” The company will also introduce a new S4 film lens with a 16mm focal length.
Fujinon, 11.310, will introduce two new Cine Zoom lenses to the European market, the HAe3x5 and HAe10x10, completing the High Definition Cine Super E series, which now includes eight fixed focal-length prime lenses and four zooms.
Thomson Grass Valley, 11.431, will introduce its new LDK 300 camera, a 12-bit SD camera that records in DVCPRO50. The company reports that to date it has sold about a dozen Vipers, the company’s flagship cinematography camcorder. In its full FilmStream mode, the camera will record 2.2 Gbps of uncompressed data, which poses a bit of challenge.
“One of the issues with Viper is that FilmStream, which is the raw uncompressed dual-link data portion of it is a bit unwieldy for some people,” said Marc Chiolis, Thomson Grass Valley’s marketing manager for acquisition and production. “We‘ve got one feature film in the works that is looking to do the workflow and they are talking about shooting for 100 days and ending up with about 150 TB of material. How do you store that for six to 12 months while you’re in offline and then bring it all back together?”
Chiolis reported that several third-party manufacturers are working on storage solutions for Viper, but one option for filmmakers looking to use Viper for long-form work is to use the camera in HDStream mode, which records a more manageable D5 image.
For J.L Fisher’s VP Cary Clayton, 11.740, “IBC is our primary offshore show, so it’s very important for us.” The company will be showing its Model 10 and 11 dollies as well as the Model 23 Sectional Jib Arm, which offers a reach of 1.8m-6.4m. “We’ve also done a lot of work on our audio gear recently,” said Clayton. “And the 6 Base has been electrified so that users won’t have to pump the hydraulics manually anymore.”
For Microdolly Hollywood, 11.130, IBC will see the European introduction of its Universal Focus Motor Kit, designed to remotely adjust focus on a wide variety of zoom lenses. It will mount on most lenses regardless of barrel size or manufacturer.
Miller Camera Support, 11.320, will show its new Miller Solo DV carbon fiber tripod range, designed for a single operator crew shooting with MiniDV and DVCAM camcorders. The company will also be showing its new studio tracking dolly in Europe for the first time.
Manfrotto’s 11.131, new products include a range of video camera remote control units that are incorporated into video head pan bars.
Sachtler, 11.420, will be displaying the new fluid head 75, designed for cine, studio and EFP operation with a payload range of up to 165lbs. Another highlight will be the company’s new Artemis EFP Pro SDI HD, a stabilizing system that features a 1.5GHz video line, enabling live coverage using HD-SDI cameras.
Earlier this year, Sachtler purchased OConnor Engineering, 11.225. “We’re going to focus on HD support equipment,” said OConnor general manager Joel Johnson. “I think it’s an emerging market but it’s in its infancy because it’s had so many false starts. The domestic market has gotten a reasonable start, and I think the international market is going follow.” According to Johnson, “We’re going to focus on the 2060 and the 55L tripod systems as well as the 2575. In addition, we’ll have the 5200 supporting a very large broadcast video camera with an 86:1 lens.”
Vinten Camera, 11.520, will be showing its Vision range of pan-and-tilt heads combined with the Pozi-Loc tripod and the new Fibertec tripod. Also on display will be the new Pro-6 and Pro-10 systems which complement the pro touch range.
TechnoVision, 3.100, will show the SuperTechno30 crane (a 30-foot telescoping crane) and for the first time, the new Techno 15 crane. Both cranes are equipped with a three-axis camera Z-HEAD.
Cartoni, 11.344, will showcase its new Sigma series, specifically designed for 35mm film cameras as well as for HD cameras weighing from 29-88 lbs. The Sigma series combines the company’s patented variable labyrinth module in pan-and-tilt fluid modes with a patented counterbalance system.
Kino Flo, 11.240, will have a few major new introductions, including a new Kamio on-camera ring light designed for lighter-weight video cameras such as the Canon X1. Another highlight is the Kino Koloris, a new LED light which utilizes high-output green/blue LEDs which can be mixed through DMX protocols to yield up to 16 million colors.
But perhaps the ‘coolest’ new gear is the Parabeam. “DPs have always said, ‘it would be really great if you could get the fluorescents to be a little more focused,’” explained Kino Flo president Frieder Hochheim. “We had an idea and said, ‘let’s try it and see if it works.’ So we ran it through a CAD ray trace program and it literally did what we thought it might do. The beam pattern that came out of it was lateral. It’s parabolic but it’s got a beam structure to it. It’s kind of an oxymoron. It’s not a point source; it’s a large luminous body of soft light. How can you focus that? Well the Parabeam does it.”
Mole-Richardson, 11.540, will introduce the Molescent Biax Series of fluorescent fixtures. Created from a blend of lightweight polypropylene and aluminum, the Molescent houses high-output, 55w Biax lamps, with dimmable flicker-free ballasts.
The company will also introduce the new Maxi-Spacelite which has six Par64 lamps oriented in a circular pattern to be used as a Spacelite. “The key to the Maxi-Spacelite is that is you get somewhere around 1,000 percent increase in down light over traditional space light,” said Paul Royalty, national sales manager for Mole-Richardson.
ARRI, 11.621, will publicly unveil a prototype of its new Arriscan film scanner.
“We had the first showing of the scanner at NAB in a private suite, but it was just a working concept model,” explained Franz Wieser, assistant VP of marketing. “At IBC we want to introduce a prototype.” The hardware is based on a new concept with closed-loop calibrated LED light sources, a customized CMOS area sensor and high-speed pin registration.
Aaton, 6.108, will show its latest portable field recorder, the Cantar-X — an 8-track mixer/recorder with internal CDR/DVD+R burner, featuring linear faders controlling two mixdown tracks for direct telecine and Avid-MC auto-sync. The company will also be showing its new Indraw-MX — a workstation for audio synching to high-definition and standard-definition dailies.
Sennheiser, 8.550, will introduce its new electret and dynamic headsets HME 285, HME 286, HMD 285 and HMD 286, ideal for broadcasting applications. The company will also introduce the ASA 3000 — a new antenna splitter along with the AC 3000 — a new antenna combiner.
Rental and sales facility Gearhouse Broadcast, 3.144, offers a wide range of camcorders and cameras, disk recorders, tripods and audio equipment.
By Scott Lehane